Being a digital nomad is a lot more than sitting at the beach with a laptop and a cocktail all day.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it a number of times, but you’re going to be a lot more productive in a space that’s set up for work. For one, there’s not usually power or an internet connection at the beach, and you have a constant battle to keep your laptop from filling with sand! Your friends all envy your digital nomad lifestyle, but to become awesome you need planning - especially if you want to simply up and change cities whenever you feel the inkling to move.
I’ve had so many friends tell me
“You get to work wherever you want, that’s freaking awesome!”
but there’s so much going on behind the scenes they never see. You need an iron clad will to balance work and travel, and personally I just want to get my work done, so I’m free to go out and enjoy the city I’m in. After a year and a half
as a remote freelancer, I’ve discovered a certain art in finding the right place to stay.
First you need to decide what you’re looking for. Do you want a fun social environment or peace and quiet to knock out a ton of work?
Enjoy a party atmosphere and an unbeatable price on a dorm bed, and the best time to work is while everyone is out sightseeing. Combine this with a fun and social vibe as the evening kicks on, and you’ve got an ideal place to stay in almost every city. Check Hostelworld for the best deals or if you’re feeling adventurous Couchsurfing is another budget-friendly option.
Perfect when you need to focus without any distractions and knock out massive work days. Combined with room service, a gym and even a swimming pool, and you’re all set. Agoda is a great site for hotels in Asia, or Booking.com for everywhere else in the world.
This is my favourite because it’s more comfortable than a hotel when you’re staying somewhere for more than a week, and can be even better for your budget. Check out AirBnB to see your choices.
For the room there are basic necessities you need to get your work done effectively. Make sure that wherever you stay there is:
- Internet. It’s impossible to work remotely without it, so double check there’s WiFi available.
- Work space. A desk or table is essential, and saves your back from hunching over on the bed or the sofa.
- Power points. Hard to judge, but conveniently located power points are vital for a remote office. Check the pictures and see if you can spot lamps (which mean power) on the desk, or on any bedside tables.
- Kitchen. I don’t like eating out everyday, and cooking is a great downtime after 12 hours staring at my laptop.
- Laundry. Being able to throw a load of washing on is a godsend, and saves you time that would otherwise be wasted sitting at a laundromat.
- Size. The bigger the better, so find somewhere at least 40 square meters and you won’t mind being cooped up all day with your laptop.
- A Separate Bedroom. Having a separate bedroom is fantastic if you’re travelling with your partner. It let’s you both have different areas to work, so you can get in the zone without being right on top of each other.
- Location. Find a place with a large supermarket nearby to stock up on groceries, as well as being close to an internet cafe so you can change scenery whenever you need it. I like to be a little bit removed from the tourist centers to avoid all the commotion, so long as there are a couple of nice restaurants nearby.
- Cleaning gear. Not the most exciting item on the list, but if you’re anywhere for more than a week it’s nice to be able to give the floors a sweep and keep your temporary home fresh.
- Reviews. Read through what the others who stayed here have said. You don’t want to be stuck in a dark little apartment with dingy furniture and a shaky WiFi connection, so do your homework before you book!
If you follow this advice you’ll find the perfect place to get your work done, so you can get out and enjoy the best attractions in the city once you’re on down time.
The life of a digital nomad is unique, so set yourself up to work effectively and you’ll be out enjoying the local sights before you know it – as you live a lifestyle many others only ever dream about!
Location independence isn’t for the young and single only, although if you are, what have you got to lose?
I saw someone on a Digital Nomad forum ask this a couple of weeks ago. It seems a natural question as so many nomads appear to be single (or just a couple). I will be doing a video about this soon, but wanted to comment on this question, provide some resources and hopefully inspiration to anyone who currently has a family and is looking to go remote or is on their way to location independence and interested in starting a family in the future.
The short answer is ABSOLUTELY, my wife and I are living proof of successful remote professionals (we have two children, both under the age of 4). The speed of which you get things done and your flexibility to do things changes a little bit when you have children, but I sincerely believe it is a mindset. For some inspiration, I urge you to watch this wonderful, short video called The Only Road about a family traveling the world.
“You’re so lucky to be able to do this…”
Inevitably, when you make the decision to find a way to travel more or live in different places, you find a lot of people telling you how lucky you are. I always agree, knowing luck doesn’t play as big as a role as sure will to make it happen. That said, even among traveling families there are varying degrees of “I wish we could do that” and admittedly, when I first watched The Only Road, I literally said the same thing. You have to do what is best for you.
For my wife and I, what we’ve decided is best is to travel as much as possible, but also to live in different places while our children are young. Our daughter flew on 24 flights before her first birthday, she’s a traveling professional. Our choice, however, is not necessarily to be constantly nomadic, always on the move. We like having a home base and have had one in Tucson for the past two years, close to family. In March we’ll be living in Palm Springs, CA with some friends on a similar (same-same, but different) path, then we’re headed to Costa Rica on an open-ended trip. We think it may be 2 years and we’ve already discussed 1-2 month “jumps” to other countries while having Costa Rica as our home base during that time.
One of the biggest motivators for me has been reading and exchanging stories with other people who have lived or are living this way. Here is a list of 10 sites/blogs to check out for great information and inspiration. If you have any questions, please feel free to use the contact page and ask. I’ll respond to emails as quickly as possible with any information or experiences I have.
MY LITTLE NOMADS
The Nomadic Family
World Travel Family
Travel with Bender
y Travel Blog
Living Outside of the Box
Snaps and Blabs
With 2 Kids on Tow
Family on Bikes
If I’m missing any that should be added to the list, send an email or post a comment. :)
We created some (hopefully) inspiring images/quotes for your desktop or background on the device of your choice. Part of making the leap is visualizing it happening as often as possible. Feel free to use or share these as you wish. Click the link or one of the images below for more…
This TEDx Talk from Adam Baker is a couple of years old, but the simple truths he outlines about the Work > Buy > Debt cycle are timeless. “What Does Freedom Mean to You?” Answering that question is the most important thing you can do for yourself in your life to obtain true happiness. Life is a hustle, it just is. Make the hustle worth it!
My wife and I are in the middle of a big purge before our move. We went through one about 18 months ago when leaving San Francisco to move closer to family in Arizona. Now we’re going through it again, filtering, shedding more “things” to make room for experiences, flexibility and freedom. Admittedly, my hardest parts of the purge have been shoes and my motorcycle. A motorcycle is its own kind of freedom, but I can get another one. And I have a ridiculous amount of shoes. Along with watches they’ve been a pretty big weakness, purchase-wise. I can get more shoes if I want, but this process is helping me learn more and more that I don’t need all of the things I think I need. We didn’t “need” 50% of the stuff we brought with us from San Francisco to Arizona.
We actually did a pretty good job. Our goal of moving from a 1 bedroom apartment in the city (San Francisco) to a 3 bedroom house closer to the Catalina Mountains (Tucson) included us making a conscious and ongoing decision to not buy things to fill the space. We added a crib, a bookshelf, were given a queen bed for the guest bedroom and purchased chairs and small table to eat meals. After this move we’ll have everything we own in a 10′ x 10′ storage unit. Some art, antique lamps and warm clothes not worth taking with us.
Enjoy the video, hopefully it helps you realize what “crap” in your life is holding you back.
Hey! Happy New Year to you (or Happy Birthday if it’s getting close).
With so much information online about being a location independent digital nomad (we call them Remote Professionals), you’d think that there are a lot more people doing it. There aren’t! The world is set up to make it easy for you to do so, the economy is ripe for living in another country (or countries) for awhile as you earn “home country” dollars and yet the average person says “wow, that would be nice.” Well it’s a new year and with new years come resolutions, goals, etc. If you’ve considered this lifestyle, make 2014 your year to GO FOR IT!
One of the ways you can learn more about how to go about this (besides subscribing to this blog and the videos, of course) is to ask other people who have successfully done it. Whether through informational interviews or simply asking people questions, there is a wealth of experience and knowledge available to you that can’t be found in a google search. Plus, you can ask questions specific to your needs. In this video I go over a few tips on the best way to go about asking questions and getting the best information from people. As I say in the video, if you have any questions, ask! I’m happy to answer anything I can to help you along. Ask in the comments or use our contact form, either myself or another Remote Controller will do our best to help you out, that’s what this project is all about. Ok, enough of this, let’s get to the video…
I hope you like the video and if you do, please subscribe to the Remote Control youtube channel!
As you settle into the life of an remote worker, you will find that you experience many up’s and downs as you settle into your new lifestyle. The freedom is empowering, but the lack of co-workers can be a drain on your personal happiness (or you may even be secretly relieved). I’m going to cover the top methods and resources I use to make your life abroad a breeze, whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional.
Get your hands on a copy of this book. Written by the founders of 37signals, they delve into the challenges and unexpected benefits for working remotely. If you need help convincing your employer to let you break free from the 9-5, this book will give you the ideas to set it in motion, outlining precisely the steps you take in building a remote work setup.
The right hardware
You need a laptop, a decent internet connection and a mobile phone that you always have on. Even though you are working “remote,” you need to be accessible at all times – especially when your boss needs to get hold of you. A separate workstation from the rest of your house will also help to keep you on task while you are working, and a great headset will make it easy to answer every Skype call that comes int.
The right software
There are endless programs to assist during your telecommute. File sharing systems like Google Drive or Dropbox are great ways to share and simultaneously work on large files with your colleagues. Of course you need to regularly check your email, sign up for a free Skype account and ensure you are always online. If your clients are international, tools like The World Clock will let you schedule effective meetings in any time zone.
A strategy to be productive
Decide what it takes to keep you on track. The biggest danger in working remotely comes from distractions. You are going to need to be even more productive than your “traditional” colleagues to maintain your remote lifestyle and grow your career. Find what works for you, it can be a post-it system plastered over your monitor, or more complex tools like Evernote or Wunderlist. Personally I write down everything I hope to achieve in a day in a notebook. I prioritize the list to determine my top four goals, and split these into two each morning and two each evening. I reward myself with a break in between tasks, or ensure I get 5-10 minutes away from my computer every hour if its a longer project. Simple and easy.
It may sound trivial, but you don’t want to find yourself distanced from the office “clique.” The people you interact with everyday at the water cooler form the foundation of your professional network. If you’re not in the office, don’t miss out on everything that goes on while you’re not there. Tools like Campfire, or WhatsApp and Line groups allow colleagues to stay connected (informally). You don’t want to fade into obscurity simply because your office is in your home.
A regular way to “Get out of the house”
The lack of face-to-face social interaction when working remotely has a remarkable ability to turn a professional employee into an unshaven, unbathed neanderthal whose sole human interaction involves having the right change for the pizza delivery guy. Dont be this telecommuter. Get active in your community through Chambers of Commerce, MeetUp.com, or local sports groups and give yourself a reason to shower each day! Join a gym and ensure you get exercise three times a week. It will also help to balance your sanity and adds a nice change of scenery to your home office.
Clear guidelines and milestones
Be open with your boss and colleagues on what it is you are working on. Keep them updated with regular progress reports, and ensure they know the timelines to expect tasks to be completed. Yammer is a great way for teams to keep up to date. It’s a common misconception that working from home involves tapping away at emails while your focus is on the daily TV soap opera’s. Don’t ever give your colleagues this impression. It only takes a quick morning call or message to outline your major tasks for the day alongside the progress you made yesterday. Bring your boss and your team up to speed every morning, and they will never doubt your diligence.
A good work life balance
My final resource is more of a guideline. Remember the office should stay the office. This key fact is often forgotten by remote workers who put in a crazy amount of weekly hours because it’s so easy to log on and “just check my email”. Having your office in your home offers a huge risk for burnout, so set yourself a schedule and stick to it.
Make use of these resources and you will find that remote working is easier than ever. It’s not scary or impossible. All it takes is for you to take charge, and grab this fantastic opportunity for yourself.
Author: Travis Bennett